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How to Pay Attention


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How to Pay Attention

  1. 1. How to pay attention researchEDHome 7th May 2020 @DavidDidau
  2. 2. What is attention? Attention “is the taking possession by the mind, in clear and vivid form, of one out of what may seem several simultaneously possible objects or trains of thought. …It implies withdrawal from some things in order to deal effectively with others.” William James, The Principles of Psychology, 1890
  3. 3. Four types of attention - Selective: blocking out distractions - Sustained: prolonged, effortless immersion - Executive: monitoring progress - Divided: ‘multitasking’
  4. 4. Task switching Start Switching penalty Start Task One Task Two Switching penalty Re-start Image credit: Paul Kirschner Switching between two or more processes requiring attention - Schema switching - Reinstatement searches - Loss of time / more mistakes Kirschner & De Bruyckere (2017)
  5. 5. The Colours Test
  7. 7. The Stroop Effect Stroop (1935)
  8. 8. 3 key points Attention is… - limited (correlated with working memory) Srna et al (2018) - selective (we don’t know what we ignore) Muller et al (2016) - orientated towards novelty Hortsmann & Herwig (2015)
  9. 9. The consequences of task-switching Heavy media multitaskers are: - Slower detecting changes in visual patterns - More susceptible to false recollections - Slower task-switching - More easily distracted - Less grey matter in brain regions associated with controlling attention. Ophir et al. (2009) & Loh and Kanai (2014)
  10. 10. Right brain / left brain But, the brain is divided into hemispheres and the role of corpus collosum seems to be for one side to inhibit the other. Why?
  11. 11. Back to attention - A bird has to be able to distinguish seed from gravel - It has to simultaneously be alert for predators - Left hemisphere maintains narrow focus - Right hemisphere remains broadly vigilant. Watanabe et al (1995) & Aust & Huber (2003)
  12. 12. How we pay attention Left: narrow, sharply focused attention to detail The known Right: sustained, open, broad, vigilant alertness The unknown If our focus is too close everything is blurred If our focus is too distant we can’t read In order to pay attention to detail we inhibit information supplied by our right hemisphere We make simplified models of reality.
  13. 13. What about intuition? Tacit knowing “perception… constitutes an observation of external facts without recourse to formal argument” Polanyi Meaning p. 34 - What happens when you read this sentence? - Хо различно ли е да четеш това изречение? - Sentence is about what reading different this? Our awareness is “subsidiary”.
  14. 14. ‘Attention’ vs ‘noticing’ - Intuition is the emergence of knowledge without conscious retrieval - We pay attention to details which trigger our “subsidiary” awareness of something un-distilled in long-term memory - This insight causes us to notice – to take in the detail and perceive the whole - But, “we know more than we can tell.”
  15. 15. Attention vs noticing Can we improve the quality of students’ noticing by guiding their attention and carefully adding to schematic knowledge at just the right moment? Can we help students to pay attention to insight?
  16. 16. Noticing in action Except for the Marabar Caves – and they are twenty miles off – the city of Chandrapore presents nothing extraordinary. How does the meaning change if we move the main clause to the beginning of the sentence? This is the first sentence of E.M. Forster’s novel, A Passage to India. What do you notice? The city of Chandrapore presents nothing extraordinary, except for the Marabar Caves, and they are twenty miles off.
  17. 17. Noticing in action Except for the Marabar Caves – and they are twenty miles off – the city of Chandrapore presents nothing extraordinary. Except for the Marabar Caves And they are twenty miles off The city of Chandrapore Presents nothing extraordinary. What happens if we pay attention to the stresses of the sentence?
  18. 18. Noticing in action Except for the Marabar Caves – and they are twenty miles off – the city of Chandrapore presents nothing extraordinary. What can we guess about the narrator’s view of India? What type of writing does this sentence remind us of? Context: - The novel was written in 1924 - India was still part of the British Empire - The sentence is similar to one we might find in contemporary guidebooks - Forster was a fierce critic of colonial government and supported Indian independence. What expectations do you have of the novel?
  19. 19. Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is in the village though; He will not see me stopping here To watch his woods fill up with snow. My little horse must think it queer To stop without a farmhouse near Between the woods and frozen lake The darkest evening of the year. He gives his harness bells a shake To ask if there is some mistake. The only other sound’s the sweep Of easy wind and downy flake. The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep. This is ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ by Robert Frost. What do you notice? English has 44 phonemes: - 20 vowel sounds (long or sort) - 24 consonant sounds (voiced, unvoiced) Voiced Unvoiced Plosives b, d, g p, t, k Fricatives v, th (as in breath) f, th (as in this) Sibilants z s, sh Glottal h Affricates j ch nasal m, n, ng glides w, wh, y liquids l, r What types of sound are used in stanza 1? How might this link to the mood? How do the sounds change in stanza 2? Does this reflect a change of mood? Do the sounds change again in stanza 3? What is the mood now? Reread the final stanza What do you notice?
  20. 20. Key points 1. It’s hard enough to pay attention (task switching) 2. Our brains are aware of 2 modes of reality at the same time but… 3. …our attention inhibits our wider awareness 4. Through guiding attention – and carefully adding to schema – we can improve the quality of attention and… 5. …help students get better at noticing meaning.
  21. 21. Further reading - Michael Polanyi and Harry Prosch, Meaning - Michael Oakeshott, The Voice of Poetry in the Conversation of Mankind - Iain McGilchrist, The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World - Terry Eagleton, How to Read English Literature.
  22. 22. @DavidDidau “It is so easy to be wrong – and to persist in being wrong – when the costs of being wrong are paid by others.” Thomas Sowell